Shillong: Emphasis was on the survey and retrofitting of existing dwellings in Meghalaya, which is prone to earthquakes, was laid during the inaugural function of a three-day seminar on approach to ‘Retrofitting Existing Dwelling and Safe Construction’ on Wednesday.
The seminar was organized by the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), Meghalaya in technical collaboration with the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Addressing the gathering, Commissioner and Secretary, Department of Revenue and Disaster Management, Ripnar Lyngdoh reminded the gathering of the risk that Meghalaya faces owing to its falling in the seismic zone-5, which is highly prone to earthquakes.
Lamenting the unplanned growth of high-rise buildings across the state, she said, ‘Such structures can contribute to a disaster in case an earthquake strikes”.
In addition to numerous initiatives taken by SDMA to create awareness and engage all stakeholders in disaster risk mitigation, she informed that efforts are on to engage the community and volunteers under the ‘Aapda Mitra’ Scheme and in the second phase of the project, five districts of the State, including East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, Ri Bhoi, West and East Garo Hills Districts will be included under the scheme.
Questioning the safety of buildings, workplaces and hospitals, she stressed on the need to evaluate the safety of such buildings and also on the importance of retrofitting them so as to “mitigate as much as we can”.
With the objective of creating awareness on disaster preparedness among the citizens and building resilience to disaster in the community, the Meghalaya Civil Defence and Home Guards department had recently conducted mock exercise, simulating earthquake in almost all the districts in the Garo Hills region of the state with the active participation of the community.
Through mock exercises, the department intends to highlight the importance of the safety and welfare of the citizens of the State in times of disasters and war by building disaster resilience in the community and empowering them with lifesaving skills, incident response and planning since they are the first responder in any disaster,” an official statement said.